2017 Principal’s Award Finalists

The MLTAWA is proud to announce the finalists of the 2017 Principal’s Award:

  • Ian Lyons, Helena College
  • Ruth Proslmeyr, Piara Waters Primary School
  • Chris Booth, Willetton Senior High School
  • Andrew Host, Margaret River Senior High School
  • Jonnine Lamborne, St Augustine Primary School
  • Stuart Chisholm, Northshore Christian Grammar School

The winner will be announced at the Principal’s Award Event on Wednesday 6th September.

Read the personal statements of the finalists below.

Ian Lyons, Helena College

I am very humbled by this nomination for the 2017 MLTAWA Principal’s Award. In my role as Principal of Helena College I have strived to provide the best possible education for our students; one that is embedded with an awareness of the perspectives, the values and cultures of others. Our decision to become an IB World school is encapsulated by this excerpt from the IB Mission Statement:

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

These programmes encourage student across the world to become active, compassionate and life-long learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

The importance of developing intercultural respect and understanding in students must never be underestimated and learning a second language plays an integral part in this process. It is for this reason that I embrace and continue to support the Languages programme at Helena College.

It is important for students to develop a global perspective via diverse educational opportunities for them to become respectful of the cultures and   values of people in their immediate surrounding and of those whom they will meet when they leave their educational setting. Listed below are the some of the structures and systems that I have put in place at Helena College to ensure the continued language experience and intercultural awareness for our students.

  • Learning through global contexts in all learning areas from Years 6-10 is a requirement of the IB curriculum.
  • Studying a second language is compulsory at the College senior campus for all students Years 6-10. Studying Indonesian at our Junior Campus is compulsory for Years K-5.
  • Helena College is recognised for its implementation of the AIM gesture method in French. Numerous teachers of French have visited the school to observe and learn this methodology. Teachers of Indonesian at Helena College have incorporated some specific gestures in their teaching and learning processes.
  • Helena is one of only a few schools in Australia to have possession of a Balinese Gamelan percussion orchestra. All students in early years of secondary school study and ultimately perform on the percussive instruments at a Gamelan concert held each year for parents and the wider community. This cultural experience is often extended by our senior Food students by providing Balinese food for parents to purchase.
  • To enable the College to facilitate the development of Gamelan performance skills in our students, a College music teacher was provided an extended in-country professional learning opportunity to develop expertise and instructional techniques in order to teach our students on the Gamelan and to impart the cultural significance of each of the instruments in the orchestra.
  • For many years a world-renowned performer in Gamelan and Indonesian Dance, Dewat Ali, worked as a resident musician at the College. The understanding and traditions that the students at the College gained from this instruction will never be forgotten. Many other schools visited Helena College to also receive valuable tuition from Dewat during his time at Helena.
  • Our connection to Indonesia extends beyond music and culture through the Indonesian Student in Resident Programme, that provides for two Balinese students each year to live and study within the Helena community. The experience for these students is life changing, creating life-long friendships with Helena students and families. These students leave the College and return to Indonesia with skills equipping them to engage in the workforce, often providing much needed assistance to their families. Many of these visiting Balinese students still keep in contact with the College today through email and social media.
  • We have maintained a long standing and genuine connection with the John Fawcett Foundation, that provides invaluable assistance for Balinese vision impaired.
  • As is the case in most schools, the attrition of student numbers from compulsory Year 10 classes to Year 11 and 12 WACE courses in foreign language courses is high. Despite this decrease in numbers I have maintained French and Indonesian classes every year, even running a Year 12 French class of two students!
  • My commitment to the employment of qualified language teachers and their continued Professional Development has been maintained even at times of financial constraint. Currently at the College I have two teachers qualified to teach Senior Indonesian classes and three teachers qualified to teach Senior French classes. This is a rarity, especially in such a small staff.
  • It is vital to offer students studying French and Indonesian the opportunity to experience the culture and lifestyle of the ‘mother tongue’ country. The College is currently planning trips to both France and Indonesia. Whilst these trips do bring inherent risk, as Principal, I feel it is important to work to mitigate this risk to provide our language students this unique learning opportunity.
  • Through my willingness to accept foreign exchange students (at no cost to their family), the opportunity for cultural exchange extends beyond formal in-class instruction.
  • I have endorsed further cultural experiences through our engagement in the World Challenge Program, that provides students with the opportunity for growth in personal resilience and intercultural awareness through the challenges of the physically demanding expeditions in Nepal, Tanzania, Cambodia and Vietnam. In each country visited, students engage in a community service project for local communities, with the notion of giving to those less fortunate than themselves.

The full credit of the exceptional young global citizens that Helena College produces is a combination of all of these things, together with a strong commitment from all of the quality educators at the College, with a shared vision and ethos towards the best outcomes for all students.

In summary, Helena College’s long-standing commitment to the development of cultural understanding, philanthropy and belonging extends from the Governing Body to members of Senior Management, members of teaching staff and students and family members of our community.

I am very proud to be at the helm of such a steadfast organisation and look forward to continuing to offer students and staff the very best opportunities for personal and academic growth through these cultural experiences.


Ruth Proslmeyr, Piara Waters Primary School


I have, without apology, a mission to redefine the way in which Language Education is led and delivered in Australian schools.  This has been a life long journey for me as a school leader. What drives my mission? Not an academic exercise by any means. Not because I am a great linguist either. My mission is driven by a passion, with a sense of urgency, to create connected communities as a future contribution to more positive global relationships and Intercultural understandings. Language Education in schools is not simply an academic exercise, although it has much merit. There is also a moral imperative to pursue whole school models for language education because it is the cultural intersection for tolerance and understanding and therefor a driver for social inclusion and social cohesion, and potentially a powerful force for great social change.

Piara Waters Primary School – our journey so far

Piara Waters Primary School (PWPS) is in its 6th year of opening and third year as an Independent Public School (IPS). PWPS has become uniquely distinctive for its commitment to contemporary, collaborative community cultures. We have 900 students, 40 teachers, 35 support staff and additional service personnel. We have very strong external consultancy partnerships, a very active P&C and a very committed School Board. The community is a very young community with many new migrant families and FIFO workers. We have 52 home languages represented across the school, and have diverse language representation across the staff team.  The biggest representations of home languages come from the Indian and Chinese continent with a significant number from the countries in the southern part of the African  continent.

My passion for this work did not come from a deep linguistic expertise, although I am well travelled and speak a few languages, but rather my passion comes from a profound humanitarian belief in the need to build connected communities especially in a new rapidly developing suburb. Isolation is just as prevalent in the urban context as it is in the remote context and especially for those recently arrives to our shores. Addressing marginalisation and isolation by building connected communities was my driver. Language was the most central to achieving this.

On arriving at PWPS 3 years ago as a Deputy Principal, in discussion with the Principal, there was the frank realisation that our migrant families were standing on the margins of the school at drop off and pick up times. What could we do to engage them as a sizable percentage of our parent body? What could we do that we overcome their cultural need for permission and confidence to participate in the learning of our school students. How could we facilitate a place that was meaningful and reached them at their point of need.

My second observation was that the curriculum profile of LOTE was in need of review and revision.  It was not a learning area that attracted great status across the school.. The issues were very common. One specialist teacher working in isolation as a DOTT teacher for the upper primary years. LOTE was not really understood by other staff, who were happy to leave it all to the LOTE teacher, with the LOTE teacher not involved in any team work across the school.  The choice of language taught matched staff skills, not the language backgrounds of the students or the wider community.  Feedback from parents however were consistent. They valued language education and wanted the school to establish a vibrant relevant and engaging Languages Program at PWPS.

My third observation was that the 52 home languages represented in the student body had no voice at all. Languages were not the living and breathing phenomena which they should have been.  Here we were a language rich community and we had missed the opportunity to tap into the language talent right under our nose. I saw 52 different home languages not as a challenge to LOTE but a deeply missed opportunity to embed language education as central to the culture of our school and meet our community at the point of most human of needs – to communicate and connect as one.

I genuinely believe that the heart of a school lies in its community. To understand how our wider community would engage with the work of the school on LOTE we had to talk to people so we held two very powerful public community discussions. The first was a morning tea with a targeted group of 25 parents of ESL students to get a minority ethnic perspective on teaching and learning and the second was an open dialogue cafe focused on connecting the community more strongly with the work of the strategic plan where we had 85 people attend. LOTE was one of the subjects for community discussion.

Out of this came a great opportunity to redefine the teaching of Languages Other Than English at Piara Waters PS. It would be relevant, have a global and community context, responsive to their feedback and place high value on teaching languages as a strategy for higher order thinking and cultural inclusion. And most importantly it had had community endorsement. It would have to be however a core curriculum priority.

We did not offer LOTE for that year. We suspended it while we worked with the community to redefine Language Education.  We established a team of likeminded staff and community members to lead the new directions. Our working title was Language Education – Language Studies. LOTE suggests to me that any language other than English has less global significance and marginalises the identity of others in the community. We needed to redefine the name of this learning area. We needed to teach to those languages which were alive and breathing in the community.

We spent the year trialling a language studies foundation program with Year 4 students and constantly sought their feedback regarding engagement and participation. I personally taught all of those lessons. We provided an exploration of historical linguistics, first nation languages and profiled Africa as our global language heritage. Built into this program trial was the opportunity for all students to share and profile their home languages, explore their linguistic origins and in groups create assessments in their home languages through the Arts. In addition we invited the Indian and Chinese community to deliver before and after school home language tuition in Hindi and Mandarin. This continues today. We were building our momentum

Outcomes and Impact

Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CALD).

The outcome has been to develop a rich and far reaching Learning Framework for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CALD). It has a number of interdependent dimensions – The role of the LOTE team teacher, CALD Student Ambassadors, CALD Chorus, Community Language Translators, CALD Parent Liaisons, Cultural and Language celebrations and home language tutorials. Central to the PWPS CALD framework is the teaching of LOTE and ESL. Our students are now leading in the Languagenuts program across the world and have received awards from the Office of Multicultural Affairs. We have also presented for the Asia Education Foundation and  hosted colleagues from the Ministry of Malaysia. This year we have been nominated as a school for an award from the Human Rights Commission Australia this year. The momentum and connection of language education with that which is deeply human is gathering an exciting pace.

We have planned now to teach world language studies drawing upon the diversity of world language cultures in years 3-6 and utilise community volunteers to provide basic language instruction across a variety of spoken home languages, currently Hindi and Mandarin. As a Teacher Development School (TDS) for the Arts we have now re modelled LOTE as The Language Arts with a key focus on teaching French from midway year 4 as a gateway language. French is now viewed by students as high learning currency as are their own home languages. We have built a momentum for learning languages with, from and by side each other.

The role of the Team Teacher is to program, coach and mentor teachers across the years 3-5 so that all students have equal entitlement and to ensure sustainability. All language lessons are now taught through the lens of the Arts. This year we  welcomed a French Assistant from France to be part of this team and also have particpasted in the Chinese Teachers Exchange Program.

Our Language Arts Program has become a creative, holistic dynamic, integrated contribution, to the school development plan, the whole school improvement agenda and our wonderful language community. We have a rich curriculum not a crowded curriculum and a creative connected community.

Being genuinely responsive to the community feedback, by tapping into language as identity and involving them in the delivery we have given our community the permission they needed to participate and engage and a have an authentic voice in the future learning direction of the school.

The role of our CALD Sudent Ambassadors, representing these 52 languages, has been a powerful student voice for language education and for intercultural understandings where we have been able to take our work to the street. The Language Arts has become the cultural intersection for our community to connect and work with one powerful voice for the benefit of students in the public school education system.

The Piara Waters Community Relationship Framework

An interesting wider emergence though has been the development of a wider framework – The Piara Waters Community Relationship Framework – which embraces community engagement and relationships in schools on an increasing level of engagement in more than the Language Curriculum. Significant to this work has been the widening emergence of parents as para – professionals in student learning.  We have an increasing number of parents who are stepping forward not only to offer languages after school but professional support during school time in other areas of school life such as media, communication, science and technology. This provides our students with very positive role models and values that which other adults bring to our school from their home backgrounds.

We have only just begun and there is much more to do and endless possibilities especially as a Media Arts specialist school. We are excited at the future horizons we have yet to explore in whole school language education and community realtionships.

Most importantly though, I believe this work has powerful social implications at the local level for world – wide relationships, which will support our children to manage the very complex and unpredictable world they now inhabit.

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.

Mahatma Gandhi

My leadership belief and my leadership message to school principals is:

  1. Emphasise that language education is not just for its academic benefit – we know that much – but as a profoundly human activity which is central to creating connected communities; much needed in complex times.
  2. Build a momentum of positive engagement across the community with language education. Create a whole school language education tusnami where no one wants to be left behind. Trust in your staff and community and parent body to join with you and embrace the languages they bring to the table. Allow it to grow organically into a holistic framework for community relationship engagement in your context.
  3. Explore the possibilities of a very distinct Language Education Framework for your school with its multiple stands and strategies so that the impact of this momentum spreads quickly. Discuss language options with your staff and communities. Trust their professionalism. Which are the most significant home languages spoken in your community and what are the language skills across your staff? Importantly, back classroom instruction up with a comprehensive wrap around culture which does not leave linguists isolated.
  4. Consider how your Language Education Framework is core to the school’s overall strategic plan, school values and mission and how it is led and managed. Does it occupy a central profile in your school context which it needs to have to maintain the momentum.
  5. Establish high expectations for language education across the school. Every teacher will support the language education teacher(s) and the framework for language education. Importantly linguists are not DOTT Teachers. They are Team Teachers with a capacity building, coaching role. Value them and regard them as L3 professionals.
  6. Dare to democratise language education across your school. Challenge the old norms around language education, think outside the box, be open to any possibility, create new opportunities and lead language education as an innovative, entrepreneurial agenda for school improvement and effectiveness and intercultural understandings.

In the primary school context we know this is an emerging agenda which we are at the leading edge of. We have only just begun and there is much more to do and there are endless possibilities especially as a (Media) Arts specialist school. We are excited at the future horizons we have yet to explore in whole school language education. We would be delighted to share our Piara Waters Primary School  journey so far with you.

Most importantly though, I believe this work has powerful social implications at the local level for world – wide relationships, which will support our children to manage the very complex and unpredictable world they now inhabit.


Chris Booth, Willetton Senior High School

I am a firm believer that learning of additional languages assists with developing communication skills and abilities in both the new language as well as the confidence and skills in the correct use of the English language.

I believe that it improves career prospects and introduces cultural understandings and resources in an international context in a world where global rather than insular considerations are vital. Its relevance in many fields such as theatre, fine arts, science and politics is considerable.

Interest in our Languages programs was waning (studied by 1% of senior students in 2009). I believed that to reverse the trend we needed to recruit a strong and energetic Head of Languages who could inspire well trained and competent teachers and assistants. We were able to employ Nathan Harvey, and it has been my privilege to work with side by side with him to reverse this decline. I believe in distributive leadership, so, together, we formulated a long term strategy and I was able to resource this Head of Learning to build our Languages area into a leader in our state. In Australia only around 11% of senior students pursue the study of a second language whereas currently at Willetton Senior High School, 20% further their studies in this area. I am committed to resourcing, supporting and promoting the learning area as we embark on the opportunities and challenges the future holds.

Our Languages Learning Area is a success story of which I am very proud.


Jonnine Lamborne, St Augustine Primary School

St Augustine Primary School endeavours to provide a rigorous and challenging, inclusive holistic learning environment for all students. The School’s Teaching and Learning philosophy is founded on the premise that today’s students, are tomorrow’s leaders; they need to be taught the necessary skills and given the opportunity to develop these in order to be successful contributors to society.

We know that our students need to be articulate communicators, using different modes of communication to thrive in the future. Our programs are explicit models of language instruction rooted in each language’s culture. Students experience success in our languages program, over achieving in competitions and entering high school with excellent reading, writing and speaking skills.

We believe that learning languages is a successful pathway for students to embrace culture, to develop perspectives of the world and to meet and connect with new people from distant places. Through our Italian and Chinese immersion programs, students are given the opportunity to learn new knowledge, stimulate their curiosity, expand their awareness of new cultures and societies, and develop a deeper appreciation of their identity and family heritage.

Language and culture bring the school staff and community together to one unique, joyous celebration!

Andrew Host, Margaret River Senior High School









Stuart Chisholm, Northshore Christian Grammar School









Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *